In a world where everyone has a soulmate, uniquely powerful mage Royiora and reluctant assassin Kalo collide in the worst of ways.
Royiora Daralkaen, the only mage alive able to use all five kinds of magic, has a near idyllic childhood in the country of Porescalia – before war breaks out with their antagonistic neighbors, Kloria.
Kalo Porla, a naturally magic-proof individual known as a Null, is trained to be as an assassin by the authoritarian empire known as the Domain.
When Kalo and his partner assassin are sent to kill a mage and his apprentice, it starts a journey neither man was prepared to begin.
Author Name: Aurora Lee Thornton
Release Date: Friday, May 15 2020
Word Count: 87000
Cover Artist: Aurora Lee Thornton
Pairings: Primary: m|m, secondary: mf, ff, ffm, mm
LGBTQ+ Identities: ace, demi, bi/pan, gay, lesbian, non-binary, poly, trans woman
Keywords/Categories: enemies-to-lovers, soulmates, coming-of-age, slice-of-life, mages, assassins, queer, LGBTQ, fantasy
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plantser, ha ha. I started off as more of a panster but I would keep running into the issue where I would forget where I meant to go with a story? So I started writing outlines – nothing too detailed, usually just a very basic ‘here is each major plot point’ or ‘this is what each chapter is about.’
My stories do tend to be character-driven over plot, so I leave plenty of wiggle room for change. And some stories I don’t have outlines for because I don’t know where they’re going yet – and that’s fine with me, too.
What are your favorite parts of publishing?
Getting my stories out there so other people can read them! I’ve only self-published, so it’s all very exciting to get everything together and get ready to go.
I love hearing what other people enjoyed about my story – little details, favorite characters, etc. I also love talking about my stories, though it can be hard to avoid spoilers in that case, ha ha.
What are your least favorite parts of publishing?
Again, I self-publish, so basically everything that isn’t the actual writing part – sending out review requests, planning advertising campaigns, all the other marketing aspects. Social media, copywriting, etc. It’s all just so much planning and work (and usually at least some money).
I also dislike querying, not that I know any authors that enjoy it. My latest story has an unconventional narrative structure, which made it hard to write a compelling synopsis/query letter when almost all the advice for how to do so is based on the three act structure or hero’s journey. I like meandering plots and slice of life, which don’t translate well, unfortunately.
Let’s talk to your characters for a minute – what’s it like to work for such a demanding writer?
Roy: “Demanding? Ha. Xe wasn’t even supposed to give us a story.”
Kalo: “Yeah… we were apparently ‘too interesting’.”
Roy: “Now xe has a whole series to contend with instead of one standalone. It’s kind of funny.”
Kalo: “It’s really not.”
Roy: “You’re only saying that because you’re a writer too.”
Kalo: “… true.”
Were you a voracious reader as a child?
Oh absolutely – I even got grounded from reading because I would read instead of doing my homework! (Though that was probably more the undiagnosed ADHD…
I feel lucky that I ran into some great fantasy written by women as a kid – I didn’t even realize how male-dominated the genre was until adulthood. Tamora Pierce is still a big favorite of mine.
Even though I know I’m not a woman now, it was still great to read fiction with complex heroines – I only wish I had known Kel was ace when I was a kid, then I might have found out I was sooner!
Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
Trek, all the way. I don’t have a problem with Star Wars – I like it in its own way. But I prefer the cerebral, utopian future exploring socio-political issues – even though they don’t always get it right.
DS9 is my favorite series because it dealt with different issues than the other STs – mainly, how a utopian society interacts with a non-utopian universe. I found that kind of interplay very interesting, and it helped add a lot more nuance to the Federation and its place in the universe.
Is this our destination? Roy considered, but chose to wait to find out.
His assumption turned out to be correct, as Kalo sighed in relief when he saw it, leading the way right to the door and knocking.
A woman of Kalo’s race answered it, even with the same red skin and gray hair. She laughed and pulled his soulmate into a hug when she saw him, before pulling back and flicking his ear with something even Roy recognized as an admonishment.
The assassin replied something tiredly, walking past the woman with the slight limp he’d had for the past week or so.
Then she turned to the mage, and in perfect Porescalian said, “And you must be my brother’s soulmate. Hello, I’m Rela.”
Roy flinched in surprise, then cleared his throat and shook the proffered hand, “Yes, uh… I’m Royiora.”
“Do you shorten it?” Rela asked, ushering him inside, “I read most Porescalian men do.”
“Um, yes,” the Porescalian man replied, “I usually go by Roy.”
The horned woman nodded, half pushing him past high vaulted halls into another room, “You must be freezing – come on, let’s get you something warm to drink. I’m sure you have plenty of questions Kalo couldn’t answer.”
Roy didn’t get a word in until after Rela had taken the borrowed coat and replaced it with a surprisingly warm blanket, sitting him at a table in what appeared to be a study or classroom with the promised hot drink.
“There are warmth runes inside the stuffing,” someone said, and then a strange looking man with six arms and blue skin hung down from the ceiling. Unlike Rela and Kalo, he had purple glowing eyes, and held out one of his arms, “Hello, I’m Xia – Rela’s one of my soulmates, and this is our home.”
“Uh, hello,” the mage said, shaking as he looked up at the rest of the man’s insectoid body clinging to the ceiling, “I’m… Roy.”
“Nice to meet you, Roy,” Xia said, skittering over a bit to lower himself to the ground, “Rela and I took the trouble of learning your language some time ago, as our other two soulmates appear to be Porescalian as well.”
“And Kalo asked me to translate his soul writing when we were kids,” Rela said, sitting across from Roy, “He was so very excited to meet you, you know. Though, judging by the state of the two of you, I’m guessing it wasn’t under happy circumstances.”
“Not… exactly, no,” Roy said, feeling comfortably warm for the first time in a while. He took a sip of the drink – it was oddly nutty, but enjoyable nonetheless, “Uh… what… is Kalo?”
Rela snorted, “A bit of a pain in the ass, honestly.”
Xia laughed, and went over to the chalkboard in the room. He cleared it with a bit of arcane magic, and started drawing, “Kalo is what we call a ‘null’ – magic doesn’t affect him, and he can absorb it to fuel pseudo-magic abilities of a limited range.”
The strange insect man pulled back to reveal the celestial star, with words written underneath each point.
“Divine magic gives him self-regenerative abilities and invisibility,” Xia said, pointing to Radzmia’s crystal throne, then moved on to Pelzz’s obelisk, “Arcane provides mental acuity and teleportation,” onto Ruelop’s spring, “Physical resistance and enhanced senses,” Guulruf’s nine-pointed star, “Physical strength and shadow walking,” and finally, Forea’s whirlpool, “And physical speed and water breathing.”
“They identified him and our cousin when they were five,” Rela said, smiling, “We were all so excited – the government provided us stipends for their education and care. Us, a little provincial family of no repute.”
“So it’s an…” Roy struggled to keep up as the warmth and stillness worked on relaxing him to the point of drowsiness.
“That’s what they told us,” the woman snorted, taking a drink, ears flicking, “But when they were twelve, they went to the Institute.”
“Where they train them to be tools of the Trinity,” Xia sighed, coming back to the table.
“The… Trinity?” Roy asked.
“Our leaders, Frezians like Xia,” Rela supplied, then shook her head. She looked up at the mage, “Let me tell you about what happened to my brother.”
Aurora is a nonbinary, asexual writer with a new goal in life: to write the queerest books possible. (And yes, xe means gay, but also weird is good too.)
Xe loves dragons and fantasy, and someday hopes to complete a (soft) science fiction novel as well. Currently, xe lives with xyr two cats.
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